He told me they were hiding, he and his wife and son,
when the air ripped, his eardrums ruptured and by the time he got to his feet,
his house was gone and he wasn't married anymore.
I set his broken arm, treated his gashed forehead.
I asked him his name, but I don't think he answered.
His son is here, as are so many. Some will survive and wander off.
I was trained as a nurse in a hospital in France, with a job promise
back home in Quebec. I am multi-lingual:
I can say "You're going to die," in seven languages.
I am slight. My movements are deliberate.
I was never any help in our backyard hockey games, growing up.
Now, I am as healthy as a chambered bullet.
I thought he was blind for a minute, but he was only in shock.
Once, I saw a lightning-struck tree next to a frozen pond where I was skating.
I put my arms out. Ta da. I will save this guy's arm, stop his head from bleeding.
You can see the tracers. All this death, it gets into your head,
the blood forever under my bitten nails.
Things bodies were never intended to withstand come from the air,
sent by strangers, wiping heartbeats from the face of the earth.
"Would you like to see your son?" I don't add, "while there's still time."
He is ambulatory and triple-oriented. He is blown up, within himself.
We pick our way around the cots, shelves, and treatment stations.
A tv is on, powered by generator. We pass by it.
Someone is talking about the war. My patient can't hear a word.
Here is his boy. I smile at him out of old habit, gesture at a box where he can sit.
I have been here six months. These people, they shiver and cough,
hemorrhage from catastrophic wounds, ask for water, go still.
I will go back to Canada in January, empty and silent,
Healthy as a chambered round.
For Karin's "A Glance At Narrative" challenge at Real Toads.